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There's a new script available for Minecraft that allows users to actually utilize the Basic programming language within Minecraft. It utilizes a number of programming blocks that can interpret console commands in the Basic language. It's an admirable feat by a gamer with some keen knowledge on computer science.
Kotaku Australia spotted the video from over on the SethBling YouTube channel. There's a near 14-minute video tutorial explaining how the Basic interpreter works and what sort of things gamers and programmers can use it for.
As mentioned in the video, it took Seth two weeks to design the command blocks that allow the interpreter to work. Basic arithmetic, multiplication, division and some crude forms of algebra can be executed within the language interpreter along with some commands that allow users to program a Minecraft mining turtle.
While the Kotaku article mentions the language only prints console outputs, the whiteboard can be used to program in-game activity for the mining turtle, including giving it directions on how to mine through blocks or place blocks down.
The interpreter can also parse through the whiteboard language and call out errors on a line, just like a real compiler. However, it's not an actual compiler. Seth explains that the command blocks in Minecraft were designed to read and execute specific commands. It's not a fully functional compiler that can read everything from the Basic language that used decades ago for basic programming. Seth doesn't say if he's planning on expanding the interpreter to read more commands so that players can start doing more complex programming, but for now it's good for basic math problems, printing to screen and commanding the turtle around.
The YouTube comments are all very interesting, but also ask a very pertinent question: can you use Seth's Basic interpreter to help teach kids how to program in Minecraft? The simple answer is: Yes.
While the language isn't fully compatible with all of the actual Basic commands, it can still teach kids the basic tenets of how programming works and how different input commands can create different output effects, as well as teaching kids how structural math can be used for more than just calculating numbers. I think the most impressive part of Seth's script is using Minecraft's turtle miner – it gives kids an actual visual indication of how the numbers and programming translates into something functional and tangible within the game world instead of just some numbers printed on the screen.
And speaking of education, it should come as no surprise that Microsoft is actually using an education edition of Minecraft appropriately called Minecraft: Education Edition. It's designed to help teach kids in school about mapping, design properties, biology, architecture, history, and geography, as reported by The Verge.
If you just want to mess around with printing scripts in Minecraft you can do so by downloading the script from over on Seth's blog.